Wednesday 28 June 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 570 - Feeding Frenzy

These are not the best images that I have ever made, but they do shown an interesting behaviour.

The birds here are Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Little Pied Cormorants (Microcarbo melanoleucos) feeding together on what seemed to be a group of small fish.  In the final picture - which is a pretty heavy crop - you can see that two of the LCPs have small silver fish in their beaks.  I'm not sure if this behaviour is collaboration or opportunism, but both sets of birds seemed to be keeping themselves to themselves, and to be 'fishing ' is slightly different ways.

The cormorants stayed together in a loose group, and seemed to be in deeper water than the egrets.  The egrets seemed to be gathered in the shallow margins.

All this action was taking place in one of the lagoons at Werribee.

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Wednesday 21 June 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 569 - Kelp Gull

On any normal day in Australia you really only have much hope of seeing 3 species of gull, and then only if you are birding in a few spots in the Southern East of the country.  It's reasonable to say that compared to many other counties we don't have many species of gull.

This is a Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) which is also known as the Dominican gull. It breeds on coasts and islands through much of the Southern Hemisphere. The nominate L. d. dominicanus is the subspecies found around South America, parts of Australia, and New Zealand, while L. d. vetula is a subspecies occurring around Southern Africa.

It may be common in other parts of its range - but I always like finding one (or more) as they feel special in my part of the world.  That being said, in the SE corner of Tasmania they are not hard to find.

In these pictures you can see some of the features that separate it from the Pacific Gull.  The bill, while still large, is not as large as a Kelp Gull's and it only has a yellow spot on the lower bill.  The flight shots show the lack of a tail band (although some young birds do have one) and legs are not really bright yellow.  

I know gull identification is a special skill, but it not that hard here!

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Wednesday 14 June 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 568 - Green Rosella

The Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) is a rosella species endemic to Tasmania.  It occurs both on the 'main' island of Tasmania and on some of the smaller islands in Bass Strait as well.  Despite what the scientific  name suggests, its is not found in Caledonia, new or old.

The green rosella is the largest member of the rosella genus. Measuring from 29 to 36 cm (11 to 14 in) in length, an adult has long narrow wings with a wingspan of 44–54 cm (17–21 in).  I can't say that I noticed it was bigger than the rosellas back on 'the mainland'.

This bird was feeding on some form of succulent plant on the edge of a shingle bank, just near the dock at Pirates Bay, near Eaglehawk Neck.  (I suspect it may be worthwhile visiting Tasmania just to geotag some of these place names!)

As you can see, this Tasmanian species is just as colourful as many of its mainland relatives.

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Wednesday 7 June 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 567 - All at Sea.

I'm just back from a weekend with two pelagic trips - and I am in need of an early night!

Both trip went out from Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania, and they were rather contrasting!  The Saturday trip was more or less as rough as I could cope with, but with lots of birds.  Sunday was far less windy and the birding was a little less active too. On the Saturday I gave up trying to take pictures and just watched!

So, this is a collection of pictures from both days.  The birds are identified in the captions below them.

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Shy Albatross

Bullers Albatross

Cape Petrel

Northern Giant Petrel

Northern and Southern Giant Petrels

Shy Albatross

I have to say, you can't really see how rough it was for some of these pictures - but I have signed up for two more!  I must be crazy!

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